Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar
After attacking Raghuram Rajan as mentally un-Indian (he is a US green card holder) and unfit to be governor of the RBI, Subramanian Swamy has demanded the sacking of chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian. Arvind’s supposed sins include his being a long-time US resident working for the International Monetary Fund, and making “anti-India” suggestions on patents to the US Congress. Finance minister Jaitley, who did not defend Rajan against Swamy’s attacks, strongly defended Arvind. So did many other BJP stalwarts. Swamy reluctantly suspended his demand for sacking, but remained unapologetic.
It is disgraceful for Swamy to question the patriotism of Indians who have US green cards, have worked for foreign organisations, or have criticized Indian government policies in foreign forums. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, a green card holder, has often castigated Indian policies and worked for agencies like the World Bank. Is he unpatriotic and unfit to advise India?
The infotech industry has been set up by Indians who worked abroad, often obtained green cards or US citizenship, but then used their talents to promote the Indian economy. Vishal Sikka, head of Infosys, is a US citizen. Does this make him an American agent?
The CEO of Tata Motors is Guenter Butschek, a German. He succeeded Karl Slym, a Briton. Are they are plotting to make India a European slave? The head of the Tata Group, Cyrus Mistry, is an Irish citizen. Does this make him a European agent undermining India?
Swamy’s ultra-nationalist pulp defies decency. Moreover, he is undercutting Narendra Modi’s passionate wooing of the Indian diaspora. The diaspora includes green card holders and foreign citizens, but Modi welcomes them as part of a global Indian tribe that transcends passports and visas.
Once, the RSS saw multinational corporations as variations of the East India Company. Vajpayee liberalized that notion. Modi has gone much further. He sees that today the biggest MNCs are headed by members of the diaspora. Microsoft is headed by Satya Nadella, Google by Sundar Pichai, Pepsi by Indra Nooyi and MasterCard by Ajay Banga. It’s silly to view them as white imperialists.
Globalization has erased narrow identity notions. Ratan Tata’s acquisitions made his Tata group the largest private sector employer in the UK. Nobody there interpreted this as foreign agents taking over white British companies. Cricket teams in the IPL (and football teams in West Bengal) are full of foreign players. They are not foreign agents.
The Constitution mandates Indian nationality for a few top posts. Beyond that, governments need the best global expertise. India had global celebrities like Rosenstein Rodan and Ian Little advising the Planning Commission in the 1950s. Paranoia about a foreign hand was Indira Gandhi’s invention.
The world over, companies and governments now hire the best talent, regardless of nationality. Swamy may call Rajan un-Indian, but Rajan is an Indian citizen. By contrast, the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, is a Canadian.
The diaspora is aghast that Swamy questions its integrity even as Modi woos it. Narayana Murthy of Infosys says India must institute dual nationality, encouraging simultaneous Indian and US citizenship. That will end Swamy’s narrow chauvinist hounding. India has been moving gradually in that direction with its Overseas Citizens of India scheme.
Wooing the diaspora means going for the world’s best in expertise, not the best in saying “yes sir.” By definition, the best are inpiduals with strong, independent views, not yes men. You do not get to the top of the diaspora by donning khaki knickers and saluting.
Governments will naturally select people with whom it has common ground, but they must allow space for disagreement too. The fact that Arvind Subramanian, or Amartya Sen, or any globalized Indian has criticized past Indian policies is a sign of vigorous intellect, not lack of patriotism. To expect the world’s best minds to toe the Indian government line before foreign audiences or politicians is to insult their intelligence and integrity.
The irony is that Swamy himself has never been a yes man. As a young economist, he says, he was offered a post at the Delhi School of Economics, which was later cancelled by the government because he was critical of the government’s economic and nuclear policies. This narration is contested by his critics, yet his maverick independence is not in doubt. After joining politics, he fought with the BJP, formed his own party, and has only recently returned. If he thinks such independent thinking does not disqualify him from high office, why complain about Arvind Subramanian?Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar is a research fellow at the Cato Institute.
**Written by Doug Powers
It’s Sunday open thread time, and here are a few matches to light the fuse on this particular candle…
The Brexit vote was Thursday, and just a couple days later it’s already responsible for countless deaths, massive destruction, misery and general psychological damage:
In other words, everything that goes wrong in Europe from here on in is the fault of Brexit.
Big questions remain: Will climate change be blamed for Brexit, will Brexit be blamed for climate change, or will xenophobia be blamed for climate change and Brexit? Put me down for “all of the above.”
Speaking of Brexit, hardly anybody in the mainstream media is talking about the “Obama effect”:
This really did the trick!
There’s another “meet Hillary” contest under way, and you’ll have to drop a lot of Hamiltons for this one:
Hillary Clinton supporters will get a chance to see the hit musical “Hamilton” if they’re willing to pay prices that are breathtaking even by Broadway standards.
Tickets for a special matinee July 12 to benefit her campaign start at $2,700 each, while $10,000 will get a “premium seat” that includes a photo session with Clinton.
The campaign website says that for $100,000 people can get a deal that includes two premium seats, a “wrap party” with Clinton “and other special guests” plus other benefits.
“For the people!” Funny they’re doing all this in the name of the Founding Father who called for a “just, limited federal government.” But just to make Hillary feel more mainstream, the Hamilton director is adding a scene showing Alexander arguing why he shouldn’t have to release his First Bank speech transcripts.
Meanwhile, for just $100 in singles you can enter a contest to go off-off Broadway with Bill Clinton to see “Bunny Ranch: The Musical.”
Hillary still has a lead over Trump, depending on which polls you believe, if any:
These polls have a margin of error of plus or minus Hillary’s indictment.
George Will’s out of the Republican Party. He’ll probably explain why in greater detail with a very complex baseball metaphor.
You can’t make this up:
Good thing we’ve had a president who has avoided that optic for the past seven and a half years!
And of course right on cue Sunday afternoon:
Have a good Sunday all!
**Written by Doug Powers